What does it take to dive into the world and career of an art manager? While it doesn't differ to much from project management, art management does come with its own specifics that differ from the corporate. Become a producer, curator, programmer, administrator, production manager etc. Most importantly, it's about the PASSION!
Art management, be it wearing the hat of a company manager, producer, curator, or arts administrator, all these roles pretty much cover a vast area that lies in between the two ends of the performing arts continuum - artists and audience. Many of the roles mentioned above act as an important mediator within a hybrid network of relationships. While the title and specificities of each management role might differ, many of the job scopes overlap. In whichever position, one inevitably works in relation with other aspects/people, which renders the understanding of such relationships as important as technical skills required in managing a production, for instance.
Learning about the artists' viewpoints and working style would help a producer or curator in anticipating and communicating their needs. It could be as crucial as being a ‘third eye’ and providing constructive feedback for one's creation process, or as mundane as overseeing trivial aspects such as dietary preference, scheduling and logistics.
As a producer or programmer, it’s imperative to study in advance the artworks that you are going to invite, present or produce. All of this comes with an understanding of the overall oeuvre of the said artist. Good research helps determine a solid framework to situate the artwork not only in the context of a single exhibition or festival, but also within the trajectory of historical or cultural discourse.
Audience, Society and Community
By being sensitive towards the current political and societal milieu, and by keeping track of the latest trends in arts, one can effectively engage and respond readily both locally and internationally.
As an art manager who mediates between artists and audience, it’s crucial to consider how to make art accessible. By understanding both the artistic vision of the artist and the needs of the audience, the gap between artist and audience can be bridged by providing context and additional information for the audience regarding an artist's work.
Media is everything, as it acts as the core element that links artists to audiences. Understanding different forms of media offers insights on how to communicate and what information to provide journalists, content writers, art reviewers or even podcasters. Social media is another important means that requires skillful management to maximize fully, such as designing captivating captions and visuals, as well as balancing work-specific information with the more intimate elements of an artist.
The three main institutional bodies that art managers often deal with include event/venue organizers (theatre and festival), funding bodies and educational institutions. Producing a show involves a lot of logistics that can often go unnoticed. For example, the negotiation of space, time and communicating different technical requirements. Financial aspects also remain amongst the most substantial parts in art management, so don’t forget to equip yourself with funding knowledge and actively connect with potential donors and sponsors. Finally, educational institutions are one of the most effective platforms in delivering outreach programs and engaging with prospective audiences or future arts practitioners, not to mention EDUCATION itself.
Overall, art management involves a gamut of fascinating skillsets and domains of knowledge across numerous disciplines and mediums within the industry. While it may sound overwhelming and even rigorous to navigate, it is all a step by step process. So, here I combined the best pointers from Joseph Gonzales and Bilqis Hijjas in Episode (5+6) and 7 for those taking their first steps into art management as an interest or even better, career.
- Start small! (internships are a great way to begin)
- Find a mentor and like-minded people to collaborate and bounce ideas off with.
- Stamina! It’s all about the long-term. Not a race, but a marathon!